Is Britain less cohesive than other countries?

Levels of social cohesion in the UK are average, overall, compared with five other countries (the US, Germany, France, Japan, Sweden) and in some respects we appear to be most similar to Germany according to analysis carried out by Nuffield College.

Despite the pervasiveness of the idea of a ‘divided nation’ in the Brexit debate, the analysis suggests divides between liberal elites and more traditional non-elites are not a peculiarly British phenomenon.

Where the UK does stand out is that we are the least ‘pro immigration’ of the countries examined but, interestingly, we are no more divided on this issue than people living in the other countries studied.

But what does cohesion mean? It is of course a complex issue measured here along three dimensions

  • The cohesive forces that bind us together, namely shared values, norms and identities.
  • Divisive forces, such as public opinion on divisive issues such as immigration.
  • Opting-out of political and community life and live atomised lives with little recourse to other members of society

Developments across a number of nations, not least the issue of Brexit here the Uk, throw up a huge number of challenges for social cohesion in modern societies. This will be one of the themes I cover in subsequent blogs on this website.

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